The former head of the Harris County Housing Authority is back helping the county-run Hurricane Harvey recovery programs despite being fired in 2012 under a cloud of allegations that he misspent millions in federal dollars, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Members of the Harris County Commissioners Court said Thursday they weren’t happy that Guy Rankin IV was back on the county payroll. They said they weren’t consulted before he was hired last month by Executive Director Daphne Lemelle of the Community Services Department.
“It’s very concerning that the director thought no one else was available with the talent, skills and appropriate background for this role,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia was quoted as saying. “Bringing in someone who came into the job under a cloud of previous questionable behavior is not in the best interest of our county. She needs to explain why he was hired.”
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle said he asked Lemelle to sever the county’s relationship with Rankin.
Lemelle released a statement that said Rankin is serving in the role of production program coordinator, a job that is scheduled to end Jan. 28 and pays him $75 per hour.
“The general role relies upon Mr. Rankin’s significant experience in disaster recovery to assist in making case management more efficient,” Lemelle said in the statement.
Patrick Traham, a spokesman for Lemelle, said Rankin was hired through a temporary staffing agency contracted to help find disaster recovery workers.
The Chronicle’s reporting revealed in 2011 that Rankin gave himself and associates large salary increases and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to his friends and relatives and those of agency staff. The stories also uncovered millions in questionable spending.
Rankin was fired by the county in 2012. A 2013 audit by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said housing authority leaders had mismanaged as much as $27.5 million during the last three years of Rankin’s tenure.
HUD demanded the Harris County Housing Authority reimburse it $8.5 million, and the agency is still repaying that debt, the Chronicle reported Friday.